All residents at an estate building in Wong Tai Sin were ordered to undergo a coronavirus test after the premises recorded two more cases. The estate had nine Covid-19 cases in total as the city reported 82 infections on Monday. The total includes 77 locally-transmitted infections, 32 of which had unknown sources.

Residents at Kwai Tung House in Tung Tau Estate will have to complete a compulsory test whilst those living in Flat 15 above the 23rd floor have to be evacuated, said leading microbiologist Yuen Kwok Yung.

Photo: GovHK.

Yuen visited the site on Monday, and said that there was a suspected “chimney effect,” whereby air containing the coronavirus was sucked up to the roof and blown into flats on higher floors, causing environmental contamination.

Kwai Tung House is the latest evacuation after a day activity centre and hostel for severely mentally handicapped people was evacuated in Sau Mau Ping, Kwun Tong on Sunday.

Health experts warned that the public should not ignore mild symptoms as Hong Kong has seen two deaths over the past three days. The condition of both patients – aged 42 and 49 – deteriorating quickly after they were admitted to hospital.

Hong Kong has seen 118 deaths in total since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Over the past 11 months, half of the 300 patients in the intensive care units (ICU) were aged under 70, so the public shouldn’t think that the younger patients would not suffer serious condition,” said Wu Tak-chiu, member of the Task Force on Clinical Management on Infection of the Hospital Authority.

Wu Tak-Chiu. Photo: StandNews, via video screenshot.

“We see that some patients in the intensive care units, they would require intubation several hours after being admitted into hospital. When we ask them, often they have been ill for a week, but they didn’t really give much notice because the symptoms were so mild,” Wu added in the daily covid-19 briefing.

“Don’t let down your guard simply because the symptoms are not serious at the beginning,” he added. “If you notice that you get out of breath more easily, along with having a sore throat and fever, see a doctor as soon as possible, don’t wait for another day or two.”

Vaccine options

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a Facebook post on Saturday that she and her team would be the first to get vaccinated if any of the coronavirus vaccines is approved in Hong Kong for emergency use.

Her comments came after the government’s announcement on Friday that the city would receive its first batch of vaccines as early as next month.

Carrie Lam at a press conference on December 8, 2020. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Lam dismissed concerns over the safety of the Sinovac vaccines, despite the fact that they have yet to complete their late-stage trials. She said that the public should not politicise the origin of the vaccines: “My response is that not to involve politics, we have to see it with a ‘depoliticised’ perspective – this is a matter of science and evidence, and there will be experts to review it,” said Lam on Friday.

She also added that Hong Kong people could choose whether to get vaccinated, but they could not choose which vaccines to get.

According to sources cited by local media HK01, Lam’s annual trip to Beijing to report to Chinese leader Xi Jinping was delayed because of the fourth wave of the pandemic.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.